December 1, 2020
Like Buddha said, you know we are all just here to fuck.
When I was 15, I spent a month working on an archaeological dig. I was talking to one of the archaeologists one day during our lunch break and he asked those kinds of "getting to know you" questions you ask young people: Do you play sports? What's your favorite subject? And I told him, no I don't play any sports. I do theatre, I'm in choir, I play the violin and piano, I used to take art classes.
And he went WOW, That's amazing! And I said, "Oh no, but I'm not any good at ANY of them."
And he said something then that I will never forget and which absolutely blew my mind because no one had ever said anything like it to me before: "I don't think being good at things is the point of doing them. I think you've got all these wonderful experiences with different skills, and that all teaches you things and makes you an interesting person, no matter how well you do them."
And that honestly changed my life. Because I went from a failure, someone who hadn't been talented enough at anything to excel, to someone who did things because I enjoyed them. I had been raised in such an achievement-oriented environment, so inundated with the myth of Talent, that I thought it was only worth doing things if you could "Win" at them.
December 2, 2020
|100 Days, 100 Nights
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
From my work shared playlist.
|Stress Me Out
I like Pomplamoose and pay attention when stuff surfaces on my Youtube recs.
|I'm a Fool to Want You
Mentioned in Obama's "Dreams from my Father": I fell back on the couch and lit a cigarette, watching the match burn down until it tickled my fingertips, then feeling the prick on the skin as I pinched the flame dead. What’s the trick? the man asks. The trick is not caring that it hurts. I tried to remember where I’d heard the line, but it was lost to me now, like a forgotten face. No matter. Billie knew the same trick; it was in that torn-up, trembling voice of hers.
|Defaal Lu Wor (Once In a Lifetime)
|Very different Talking Heads cover...
My friend Candace mentioned it.
Thought I heard my neighbor playing a song with the line “I’ll pack myshit” on his guitar... not sure if this was it or not.
|Lose Yo Job (feat. DJ Suede the Remix God)
|musical remix of a meme, talking no crap from the cops
via The 5 Most Ridiculously Glorious Memes Celebrating Joe Biden’s Election Win, Ranked
|Public Enemy Number Won (feat. Mike D, Adrock & Run-DMC)
|Never Going to Let You Go
Madison's Lively Stones
|Weirdly I couldn't find a youtube video (and someone gifted me the MP3) but this video gives the spirit of the Trombone Shout Chorus.
I played tuba behind a School of Honk trombone sectional and they introduced this one.
|Go Your Own Way
|I do like the vocalist's trademark sound.
Just browsing for covers.
|Don't Look Back (feat. Kotomi & Ryan Elder) [From Rick and Morty: Season 4]
Rick and Morty
|End credits, soft pop.
Not sure if they're commissioning music for the show or what...
|Seagulls! (Stop It Now)
Bad Lip Reading
|Strong David Byrne (or in the negative view, Robin Thicke)
From a pleated jeans entry.
Brass Monkey Brass Band
|Kind of a more somber edge to this one, a more minor key.
My friend Candace mentioned it.
|Send Me On My Way
|The old 90s song.
from this BoobsRadley tweet "I hate when a car is parked rudely but has bumper stickers I agree with. Taking up two spots? *Not* the way to represent Rusted Root."
Too Many Zooz
|Very nice cover of the Billy Elish song.
Emira didn't love doing anything, but she didn't terribly mind doing anything either.
So (and please, not to be starting in any anti-trans-folks sentiment, thanks) - Elliot Page said his pronouns are "he/they". Took me a second to realize this probably meant "use he or they, either is fine" and not like "use he if subject of sentence, them if object".
I always assumed saying "he/him" was splitting a phonetic difference, shorter than "he/him/his" but less ambiguous / hard to parse than a bare "he" might be.
Declaring oneself as "he/they" is interesting. I'm a fan of singular they, especially when talking about a role that hasn't been filled yet ("when the programmer presses return, they should see ___") etc. I recongize that "they" can used as a tool for a low-key style of misgendering, like when someone is rejecting someone else's correct pronoun but doesn't want to be called on it.
With parallels to people trying to pretend we are in a post-racial wonderland and can stop working to be anti-racist, I kind of wish people weren't so binary, but also respect that some folk- trans and cis alike- want those opposite poles to hang around. But like does that mean well meaning lefties should be careful? Like can saying your pronouns are "they/them" just mean "I wish people weren't making such a big deal about gender" or should it be reserved for people who don't feel comfortable at either end of the spectrum?
December 3, 2020
Aw, poor kitty Dean. We're not feeding him this morning because of an ultrasound later today.
I know when cats become extra affectionate when they want food, it's easy to be cynical - like hey, maybe you don't like me or even pets for own sake, just a conduit to food! But even if that was the case (and I don't think is at least not totally) I gotta remember that it's foolish to expect a cat to live up to some weird human separation of communication of affection and dependency ...
School of HONK! Friendsgiving Dance Party, I'm in the "miniband".
Man, it looks so much better when I'm dancing a little than just standing stiff.
December 5, 2020
the social norm of "its your ethical responsibility to be constantly aware of, and angry about, every bad thing happening in the world at all times, even if you can't possibly do anything about it" is possibly the best way I can imagine to create burnout and cynicism and depression in a population, so good job guys
A former instructor/mentor of mine, Jeffrey Ventrella, writes:
I will be giving a Zoom talk next Friday, December 11 at 12:00 noon (Pacific time) It's free! (but donations are appreciated). If you would like to attend, kindly RSVP here: https://workpetaluma.com/lecture-fractals-on-the-mind-biophilia-in-art-design-and-psychology/ or you can email me directly. The presentation will last about 45 minutes, followed by Q&A, and then - for those who want to stick around - we will have an open-ended discussion.
Here's the Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/95783627043
Fractal geometry evokes a certain visual affinity to nature in humans. "Biophilia" refers to a psychic resonance to natural stimuli that is rooted in our deep evolution. New scientific theories, mathematical modeling, and design practices are pointing the way for a more sustainable world that embraces our biophilia. It can inform architectural design, and more efficient energy distribution systems. There are even new studies on how psychedelic therapies increase the "fractal dimension" of brain activity.
Please join us for a stimulating lecture by coWORKer Jeffrey Ventrella. Jeffrey's uncommon blend of art, math, and science brings a unique perspective on the subject. This presentation will be illuminating and informative to any curious mind – especially designers, teachers, artists, and scientists.
BIO: Jeffrey Ventrella is an expert on fractals in art, which was the topic of his first dissertation. His second dissertation was on genetic algorithms in animation and graphic design, which he earned from the MIT Media Lab. Jeffrey has taught at Syracuse, Tufts, UCSD, and SFU, and has lectured internationally on artificial life, math visualization, and creative coding. For examples of Jeffrey's work, visit:
Tree Yoga - https://vimeo.com/259806661
They're actually boxing *mittens*
The "folk art" tree my dad made, a swarovski star from melissa's mom, a vintage Tuba Christmas scarf, a JP honk sousaphone ornament from mom, and a buncha lights...
Take a gamble that love exists and do a loving act.
Cool, cool. Report COVID numbers in Florida, get raided by State Police.
December 9, 2020
I am nuts for information-- as are we all, I suspect, most real men and women. I can't get enough of the stuff. When I'm clicking through the hundreds of E-mail messages that await me each morning, sometimes I imagine I'm a mighty information whale, sifting through thousands of tiny (but nutritious!) krill bits. Yum! Whether it's reading the cereal box or scanning the advertisement slide show some genius thought to project on the big screen at the movie theater, my appetite for information is unquenchable.This metaphor is kind of formalized as Information Foraging Theory. The claim is humans forage for information the way other animals forage for food - and that can be usefully applied to analyze "doom scrolling" and kneejerk email checking and similar behaviors, where we swing back to the hunting grounds, and then stick/scroll around for periods of time based on the likelihood of something good showing up.
I was thinking about how I also stockpile information, and I use a motley collection of apps and websites to do so:
- Projects Done
- "Wisest" quotes
- "Factoids and Intermittently Useful Information"
- Medical events / things to discuss with my doctor
- Shared shopping list with my partner
- Shared mailing list and zoom info for my science and spirituality reading group
- Shared idea for future top list
- Music to Get
- Videos/Shows to Watch
- Work Items to Do
- Passwords + Account Info
- Media Journal
- New Music Playlists
I think similarly, I've never been a fan of "RSS style readers" that take pure information content and put it into a generic template... the information loses that extraneous sensory data that helps me intuitively identify and recall the source/hunting ground..
RIP Chuck Yeager!
Lemme break this down for you landlubbers, again: salt water hates metal. And moving things. And especially metal moving things. And basically anything that isn't salt water. And you.via the Quora Has the Navy ever considered using saltwater for showers and lavatory sinks rather than evaporated water?
Salt water is functionally condensed hate.
"infant so tender and mild" suggests the existence of a spicy baby
One of the most amazing optical illusions ever. Those circles don't move.
It's just like the light at the end of the tunnel has showed us how stinky and bad the tunnel is.
Depending on how you slice it, Biden won by 40,000 votes in swing states, or 7 million votes nationwide. Trump has lost over 50 lawsuits (with 1 trivial win) because the type of widespread vote shenanigans he claims just didn't happen.
Trump fans, it's time to follow your own advice about how feelings don't matter, and accept that Biden will be the next president, fair and square.
"The past is gone, and cannot harm you anymore. And while the future is fast coming for you, it always flinches first and settles in as the gentle present" _are you kidding me_ this quote has propelled me through at least three emotional crises
(this is a poem
which like the old joke goes
may just mean that the lines end
before the sentences do)
you've been dealt a bad hand;
born with a brain so desperate
to keep you safe
to ward you away from
a world full of dangers
that it overshoots;
a barrage of warning flares
that sets the landscape on fire
(even a lovely garden of career
one you bought seed and supplies for
and worked and worked
dirt under fingernails -
those fucking fear flares
burnt that too)
and one day (back with
the fires tamped down)
we found each other
but, what am i?
sometimes a lonely guy to be around
sunday school taught me
the view from God's throne -
(the unreachable vantage point that persists
even if there's no butt in that chair)
and the only feeling that matters
is to keep any other feeling
my own fear fire was laced with brimstone
and even now i can't can't can't
be willfully responsible
for letting situations go wrong
(that brings damnation
eternal and hot
and unmakes me)
so i live in responsibility
and I love in admiration
both proceeding from the outside in
- but what if love needs be the inside out
when we found each other
i loved your laugh and your love
...and i'd help you play that hand you were dealt
now i'm haunted that maybe
I was just another bad draw
(there is no end here
this space left intentionally blank
for us to write
what comes next)
Went back to play original NES Super Mario Brothers, a game I'm not sure I've actually ever beaten, making heavy use of Switch's "rewind" feature. I had forgotten how unforging it was - probably the origin of "Nintendo Hard", the weird bad synergy between "Arcade games give you 3 lives and entertainment to fill those little bursts" and "home games now can and should have a lot of content and give many hours of playtime to make up their cost".
I gave up on world 7-4, which is a weird, unmarked puzzle that feels like an infinite loop but actually you have to take certain top or bottom paths or something. (I thought only the final 8-4 level did that.)
Supposedly the "All Star" version added in audio feedback to tell the player they chose the correct or incorrect path, but it left me with this:
Hot Take: Donkey Kong is a much better game than Super Mario Brothers.
Last night Erika, the co-facilitator of the Science and Spirituality reading/discusson group I manage, led a discussion on the first 3 lectures in William James' 1902 book The Varieties of Religious Experience. I think most of the other folks in the group resonated with the James more than I did...
December 18, 2020
James speaks highly of an ecstatic form of religious moment, periods of deep wonderment that transcend thought, that can only be achieved by feeling. I think I did well laying out why this doesn't hit home for me during the zoom call. (And as co-facilitator, making sure we heard from everyone who was willing to share... 2 of the quietest people when given the floor had a lot of smart stuff to say!)
I put my stock in rationality, a rationality that's smart enough to realize it won't have all the answers at hand, and so respects other ways of knowing, even as it tries to analyze them. (Or dissect them, as the cynic might accuse!) To many people my approach seems almost inhumanly cold, but my argument is it has the potential to be MORE human + empathetic.
I am suspicious of any spirituality that leans so heavily on revelation - whether personal, as in the moments of ecstasy James lectures on, or parlayed into the institutional, like the organizations built on what God said to Moses, or to Paul on the Road to Damascus, or to Mohammed, or to Joseph Smith, or whomever. Make no mistake- the length of that latter list, and the variance of those revelations, is key to why I don't trust it. Like Omar Khayyâm put it:
And do you think that unto such as youFor me, a spirituality needs to be potentially universal, or it is nothing. (Even if any single faith path is incomplete - despite how those faiths so often claim to being universally and objectively true - and we have to go "meta" and accept a multi-path view, and/or say the the ultimate objective truth involves accepting a range of idiosyncratic and incompatible and even feuding paths) And language and rationality are how we can try to reach to one another. If we have a hope of building bridges that go beyond the subjective it is in that kind of honest, forthright, loving and empathetic analysis.
A maggot-minded, starved, fanatic crew
God gave a secret, and denied it me?
Well, well--what matters it? Believe that, too!
I think it's useful to see this in the lens of our general day-to-day psychology. One of my favorite metaphors for that is The Elephant and the Rider, posting our fragile logical and narrative self as hanging on top of the emotional Elephant providing all the energy, that rider-self claiming credit for where the Elephant goes but only having limited influence. The Rider plays a crucial role in explaining ourselves to ourselves and to others, and thus allowing social dialog and trust and co-operation to exist.
James of course seems to encourage the life of the elephant as the key to enlightenment. And although he's too reserved to say it, you start to suspect that he holds to it as a connection to something supernatural, a transcendence to connect outside of our system rather than an emergent something, a pattern miraculously rising from our base materials and energies.
Let me know if you're interested in joining the "Science and Spirituality" reading and discussion group at the Belmont UU Church! About 6-10 regulars meet the third Thursday of every month (these days by Zoom of course) and try and tackle a medium length read together - excerpts from a book or a collection of related articles, etc. It's a really thoughtful group of people, with artists and educators in the mix. We're able to find good readings and then the 90 minute session often ends up being one of the better parts of my month.
December 19, 2020
White people in this country will have quite enough to do in learning how to accept and love themselves and each other, and when they have achieved this--which will not be tomorrow and may very well be never--the Negro problem will no longer exist, for it will no longer be needed.
To be sensual, I think, is to respect and rejoice in the force of life, of life itself, and to be present in all that one does, from the effort of loving to the breaking of bread.
If the concept of God has any validity or any use, it can only be to make us larger, freer, and more loving. If God cannot do this, then it is time we got rid of Him.
Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, which is the only fact we have. It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death--ought to decide, indeed, to earn one's death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life. One is responsible to life: It is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return. One must negotiate this passage as nobly as possible, for the sake of those who are coming after us.Adding that last one to my collection of quotes on mortals.be Half tempted to end it at "the conundrum of life" but It think the whole passage is good.
sometimes when i'm struggling w/ self-care i remind myself that i am, at my most basic, a hamster in an enclosure.
i need food & water & a safe environment
i need enrichment & the right level of stimuli. i get exhausted if exposed to too much stress & handling.
i am a being with needs, and i deserve to have those needs met, by a responsible and loving caregiver. i just happen to also be that caregiver.
when i think about it like that, it's easier somehow
I learned two things in this tweet:
1. There is a world class darts player who respects his eggplant farming roots.
2. Darts players have walk-on music, like pro-wrestlers, and cheerleaders.
Bodycam Videos Show Boston Police Violently Attacking Floyd Protesters Admitting this is just going to make some of my protest comarades shake their heads at my privilege fueled naivety, but I thought a little bit better of Boston Cops than this. Yeah, it's kind of a "Best Of" (Worst of) set of excerpts, but that one cop bragging about hitting folks with his unmarked cruiser before the other cop mentions the body camera is on brings out the ACAB in all of us.
Reminds me of an easier time, you know? Or a time whose problems I've suppressed.Such a funny high energy show!
The world is complicated, Bar. That's why it's interesting.via his medium essay on making tough decision
Awesome sound toy blob opera
We barely have time to react in this worldI think about this line sometimes when reading about “Guns, Germs, and Steel” colonialism and racism. Tough to know if any group would have been more moral had opportunities been reversed. And it’s one of those questions that begs the questions of existential predeterminism- how can anyone have done other than what they did in a universe that is governed by a domino chain of cause and effect? Free will is tough to pin down though moral behavior seems to depend on us acting like we have it.
Let alone rehearse
And I don't think I'm better than you
But I don't think that I'm worse
What I say to them are the one or two best things that I learned from Sen. [Ted] Kennedy. First of all, the best is the enemy of the good. He didn't make that up. But if you have a choice between achieving 20 or 30 percent of what you'd like or being the hero of all your friends, choose the first. We're not here just to make speeches. The second thing, which I think is really of great practical value, is don't worry about credit. Credit is a weapon. You give the other person the credit. When you disagree with someone, get them to talk about the problem. Eventually--it happens almost always--they'll say something you agree with. Then you can say, "Let's work with that."
Well, when I was young, I was pretty dumb. And now that I'm older, I'm pretty fucking dumb. I don't know everything, and I think I do. So there's the problem.Also him on daily exercise:
I didn't ever think I'd get this old. [Laughs] I always thought I was lucky to make it past 21.
I still try to do a little workout every day just to pay for the day. That’s what I call it: You have to do something to pay for the day. So I’ll get up and do a little walking or jogging or whatever, just enough to keep the heart going.
Was doing some therapy-related thinking and came up with some stuff that feels new to me - I always like when I can find what seems to be some root explanation between different idiosyncratic aspects of my character...
1. My dad's death (just after I started high school) was a loss, but I think the real trauma of it was less about the death and more about the debilitating illness before: namely the lesson of how awful it is to be helpless to help loved ones.
2. On to hugs. I dig greeting and farewell hugs with family and friends, and of course an amorous embrace is always laden with lovely potential. But I think reassuring, consoling hugs land differently for me than some people. Other people seem to groove on a feeling of "look I'm here for you, everything's going to be ok" whereas for me the message is "welp, I'm helpless to materially fix this, but at least we're in this together." So I'm happy to provide comforting hugs as needed, but don't quite intuit why they work for people or want them for myself when I'm in a rough state.
3. And on to romance in general. For a long while I've seen romance as a mix of (mutual) admiration and (mutual) responsibility. But now I can see that the end goal of the responsibility is to make the other person into as fulfilled a person as they can be. So the loving gesture and support in general are means to that goal, and not ends unto themselves. (But I think other people are more into the loving gesture for its own sake...as one old paramour put it "I just want a lover who'll make me chicken soup when I'm sick.")
a redwood will never return to its roots, never crawl back into its seed. you cannot be what you were at the beginning. you can only move towards the end.
(I might have Posted this "Pictures for Sad Children" Star Trek Next Generation empathy, "this is her... Super-Power" but I wanted to have it better show up in my archive search.)
Yikes. I love small cars-- easy to park in the city, can still carry a tuba. But 2 of the most
logical replacements for my old 2004 Scion xA, the Honda Fit and the Toyota Yaris, are going away...
it's so stupid how low gas prices gas prices means everyone only cares about oversized vehicles.
December 25, 2020
Donkey Kong Christmas Tree by Carlos Leituga
Repost (from 10 years ago!)
For a while now, I've had one of these BT speaker/radios on my bedside table, the iHome iBT4:
They also made a "boom box" style version of it:
The design of both was quite appealing in an artsy retro and "Museum of Contemporary Art" way - but there's something weird about the coating they used that over time it becomes a gross and sticky/tacky.
For Christmas Melissa got me the SEVIZ Four off of my wishlist so I can retire the iBT4. (I've noticed even cheap BT speakers have gotten much, much better over the past few years, much richer sounds, so I think it will be an upgrade in the audio department. And both have an FM radio, which seems like a nice backup for information even in an age of podcasts.)
Still, it was a really cool design!
I've been reading Robert Wright's "Why Buddhism Is True". Once again I find there are a lot of profound Buddhist concepts I find pretty intuitive, that they jibe well with the sense of "unrealizable yet present and important Objective Truth" that is my inheritance from my religious upbringing.
December 28, 2020
The book spends a lot of time on the illusory nature of "essences" and how humans are too quick to mix up how they feel about something or someone and what that thing or person actually is. The most extreme failure of that is Capgras Syndrome, where a mental glitch causes someone to fail to recognize a loved one and claim that they've been replaced by an imposter because the other person isn't triggering the emotional response used for identification
I've long been interested in the conflict of "surfaces vs essences". I have always emphasized the former; look to how things interact, which can be observed and verified, not to your guess about their interior states. Or as I've put it: "People and computers should be judged by what they do, not by what (you think) they are."
But there are limits to my view. To make predictions about future behaviors, to judge the safety of interactions with others, we have to make these models. (Hell, maybe the point of consciousness is to model the world and our place in it, so that we can play what-ifs out in our head.) As Professor Quirrell in the delightful fanfiction Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality puts it:
The import of an act lies not in what that act *resembles on the surface*, Mr. Potter, but in the states of mind which make that act more or less probable.Harry Potter (this one raised by a couple of Oxford Professors instead of the Dursleys) realizes this is recapitulating the "Bayesian definition of evidence".
That line has challenged my thinking for a while, but Wright introduced me to a concept to fight back a bit - the existence of Fundamental Attribution Error - as humans we are highly predisposed to overemphasize the character of someone and deemphasize the circumstance and context of the situation. (Unless of course it's someone we like doing something bad, or someone we dislike doing something good - then it's just a matter of circumstance or coincidence!)
Of course knowledge of FAE can lead to cynicism, making all good and bad behavior a matter of situation and opportunity...like Chris Rock put it "Men are as faithful as their options" I'm not quite there - I do think people have something of a personal code they will more or less stick to, but if you keep turning the crank on this line of thinking, you get to questions of free will in a deterministic universe and if ideas like the Tabula Rasa (blank slate) are true. Like (heh) the video game character Andrew Ryan put it... "We all make choices, but in the end, our choices make us".
FOLLOWUP: Listening to an episode of "No Stupid Questions", they mention "Locus of Control" - a spectrum ranging from internal (i.e. you have control over events) to external (things are controlled by other forces/circumstances). In general they think it's happier/healthier to have an internal one. But it's funny, that's the same kind of space as Fundamental Attribution issues, but for our own selves. I think a balanced view is called for (even though I guess there's some evidence that a internal-locus "power of positive thinking" is very pragmatic - if not fully rooted in reality!)
Go out to the woods sometime. Find a big tree, the biggest you can.
Go up to that tree, lay a hand on it, and ask it about what it feels, about how it feels about having won its place. Ask it how it feels about having smothered and shaded out a hundred smaller enemies, and then feasted on their rotting corpses. And that huge ancient oak tree will tell you how sweet triumph tastes, and how death pays for life.
Then find one of the struggling little scraggly trees under that oak, and ask it what it feels, and it will tell you of patience, of endurance, and of how sweet will the bones of the giant taste when the giant falls at last, and gives the sapling its chance.
Plants understand more of triumph, of death, and of how death and life are but two sides of the same coin than most humans ever will.
So, today marks 20 years of this blog! I hardly missed a day in all that time. 10 years ago I made a nice montage picture.
December 30, 2020
I couldn't think of anything as great for this milestone, so I decided to finally get to a different look back - a few months ago I assembled a list of high points and lowpoints of all my school years. I was surprised at how easy it was to assemble, though I guess it makes sense that these things really stick out in my memory landscape, and all I had to do was think chronologically to survey them all.
- My dad thought I had stolen a dollar from the local Thrift Store, loosely affiliated with the church, after I had been playing with the register and later it came up short. My emotional memory was that I was innocent - I just liked the crash bang of the old fashion register - and I was grudgingly believed but as we walked away my dad said "the finger of suspicion is pointing at you" and I admit, it seems really sketchy! So I'm not 100% certain.
- First grade I had a teacher who was a nun of the "everyone goes at their own pace" variety, but my second grade nun was having none of that. After some physical contention the dicocese ran me through some tests and had me skip second (my parents declined a scholarship for me at like a specialty boarding school, that's always a minor what-if for me but I'm pretty sure I had a better life!)
- The grade skipping was undone a few years later when I switched to a public school district
- "Student of the Week" w my first week at the new school
- Got yelled at my teacher after getting "Student of the Week" and doing a celebratory slide on the ground, being told "we don't do that here"...
- At one point for a Sunday School skit/presentation, I was set up as "Mr. Good Jr. Sunior", the exemplar of good behavior and good dress (albeit supplementing the usual uniform with a light blue sweater vest) and toting a bible. I was proud enough at the time, but it was absolute cringe in retrospect.
- "Project Kindle" - a "gifted and talented" program at my school. In 4th or 5th grade I did a course of study on "robots" (wrote that book) with a lot of 1:1 mentoring. In 6th grade I did an "underwater base" in Lego, but I started getting into avoidance strategies because I knew I was so half-assing it.
- Bad 4th Grade relationship with Miss Norton (as my dad called her, "Snortin' Norton") and another teacher who did math, Mr. Harrigan I think was the name
- Because of the previous grade skipping, I got put in the lowest 5th grade reading instead of highest 4th grade reading class. (I remember the teacher having to say "commercials" because the students were unfamiliar with "advertisements")
- going through great lengths to avoid doing math homework, probably greater than just doing it (calc cheating?)
- A great 5th grade relationship with a teacher Mrs Dorvee
- I was consistently in the "D+F club" in sixth grade - halfway through the semester I would be having terrible grades, though I'd usually pull them up by the end. Later I remember my mom trying to get me to commit to certain grades, and I HATED that... I would only say "let me promise to put in a good effort and see what happens" because the idea of making a goal and missing it seemed horrible to me.
- terrible, terrible in the shop classes, both wood and metal. In metal shop, making a bent metal dust pan, asking the teacher what I should use to stir the pain, he sarcastically said "your hand" and I believed him, and had fun with a black paint stained hand, threatening to touch people etc w/ it. The next day the guidance counselor asked me to look at some hella suspicious black fingerprints above a doorframe. I denied it was me - to this day I don't think it was! Like I was tearfully pleading my innocence, and I think it was sincere... but even I wonder about the coincidence (I thought I was being framed, to be honest)
- getting goaded into a fight with a kid (trying to establish I wasn't the bottom of the social order, I guess?) when he didn't show up we other kids had the idea of going to his house, and we did so, even entering it. This is one of the biggest shames I carry - a situation that was a hairs breadth from police involvement, and so I have some empathy for "good kids" who end up doing something really, really stupid.
- I swapped best friends, Dylan for Todd. I am glad to have been close to Dylan for these decades but am unclear why I felt there had to be a swap
- carrying a brief case instead of a backpack in 6th grade (one teacher called me "The IBM Dough Boy")
- possibly after friend of the family taking us to "Troy Music Hall" determined to be someone who liked jazz and classical, because that was what smart people liked - this stunted my musical appreciation for years and years.
- really resented having to move, yet again, to Cleveland. Because I associated Ohio with my dad's rural family, I thought I was going to the back woods (when really going from upstate NY to the near suburbs of Cleveland is rather the opposite)
- The year of that move, as a form of protest I was determined to detest sumercamp. To show my disdain I would walking around pretending to watch an imaginary portable TV... "I hate everything about this place" became a mantra... so much so that I startled myself when a thought starting "I hate..." got autocompleted with "everything about this place" by an autonomous part of my brain (to be fair the showers and lack of privacy were kind of awful, but if I had tried I could have had a great time, as I did later seasons at band camps.)
- bombing math tests in 7th and 8th grade, to the point of tears
- writing computer trivia program in BASIC on history instead of a research paper for a History Fair, the judges hated it... really feeling the frustration/disappointment from my dad as we went for consoling brownies after.
- mom doing most of the work 8th grade science fair project on climate change / plant growth
- winner in 8th and 9th grade of "Dobama Theater Kids Playwriting Festival"
- taking SAT early, like in middle school, and winning some recognition
- winner National Council of Teachers of English (strawberries) and had a special relationship with my English teacher Judith McLaughlin - one of the few teachers I'd end up going to visit years after graduation.
- rewriting this short story "Strawberries and the Paths Taken" and McLaughlin telling me I sorta destroyed what was good about it
- My dad getting a debilitating attack of spinal meningitis eventually leading to his death
- I made a morning tradition of making my dad fried bologna sandwiches, and then I just stopped. I think just pulling back from the frailty and helplessness of his debilitating illness
- struggling in several math classes, especially Calculus - basically once math shifted from "think quickly" to "remember a lot of things" remember faking sick one day to avoid a test. Geometry went great tho.
- My geometry class had a kite building activity, and we were allowed to use store-bought frames as long as we made the material? and I had my Grandma sew that for me. But the resulting kite ("Simba") did look pretty awesome - I painted "Flying Tigers" like shark mouth on it.
- Biology went well despite the memorization involved... Chemistry went badly as expected, and Physics went REALLY well, also as expected. Languages went terribly and I switched from French in middle school and one year in high school to Spanish (I think I had picked French because it seemed more intellectual) I also did weirdly well in History, given that it would seem to be a lot of memorization
- Wooing Veronika, the exchange student from Germany... the relationship had many awesome + authentic qualities but also this weird thing where I know it was the ego boost of being selected by someone so exotic.
- I went to Senior Winterfest with Nicole, a Black bandmate and bus-stop buddy. But I pursued Marnie for prom; not sure if it was a lack of spark with Nicole or more loaded reasons, and I feel bad about that, but stuff with Marnie blossomed into a great high school/early college romance and I don't regret pursuing her.
- Cribbed from a set of "dueling essays" in the Atlantic Magazine about the authorship of Shakespeare (i.e. the one magazine was my only real reference in what was supposed to be a research paper) and made a "Senior Essay" in the form of a dialog/play, a single essay that got me an A+ in both English and History class. But a bit of a negative in being a big dodge.
- getting 1490 on SAT
- Did OK on some AP tests, mixed in other tests (AP and others). Challenged my notion that I was just a genius/test genius (now that I think about it, my advantages are being fast, and maybe having taken the SAT before!)
- summers I worked for the Cleveland Catholic Dioceses' "Camp Happiness" - geared at special needs population. The kids were generally so full of love that it softened the edges of their plight. There are two scenes from that and my van monitor/cellphone keeper time there that I won't get into here, because of camper privacy
- At some point in high school I sort of "dumped" my best frind Mike Witczak, betrayal as a weird bow to social hierarchy, but later we were reconciled best friends again.
- didn't get a NASA highschool internship
- Applied to Harvard (I think my SAT score triggered their auto-recruitment) but didn't get it.
- Got a high school recognition from the phi beta kappa society
- Spanish class in college was just terrible
- I had an on again mostly off again romance that recurred throughout the 4 years of school and cast a shadow over the other romances I had.
- I took the intro to computer science class because it meant I didn't have to repeat my nemesis Calculus. I got an A, but barely. Later a TA encouraged me to take the "weedout" class, where the As started coming rather easily (thanks to the brilliant style of Professor Couch, who had a deliberate strategy of collaborating w/ the early self-starters on the 3 or 4 difficult projects, then propagating the techniques to the rest of the class, thus goading the self-starters into pushing harder and getting better results than the coattail riders). So that became the other part of my double major along with English (and I dropped the Child Studies track I dabbled with thinking I might want to be an English teacher)
- took a lot of African American literature in college, the only overlap of "foreign culture" and my English major (After a Latina Authors class I found out I couldn't get English major credit for stuff I read in translation) It was generally great stuff but the choice was more pragmatic than enlightened.
- I was so fortunate with college money.. between the deaths of my dad and my grandfather Papa Sam there was some money for school (my mom also went for her Masters) and between that and scholarship cash I ended up with very little debt, and I think my mom wiped that out at the end.
- The deal with money was that I'd get room and board paid for but any spending money I had to earn, so freshman year I worked the mailroom for my dorm, and then I moved to being a "UC" at the computer lab
- I had some kind of ambition in the computer lab, and ended up getting the role of student manager, mostly by interview well for it and sounding like I wanted it
- but, when it came time to do the hard work - namely redoing the printer networking in the lab - I foisted it off on my 2nd in command Todd
- pleading for A- rather than B+ - but at the beginning of the semester... those were the two grades I almost always got in classes for my English major and the math said that was going to be the difference between magna cum laude and summa. I didn't plead for grades much, and it was at the begining of the semester, still, kind of shameless... but it worked!
- getting a proper Phi Beta Kappa key, along with the summa cum laude
- avoided writing any undergraduate thesis papers.... maybe as a double English and Computer Science major I fell through the cracks
- I had a great summer job programming for the "Curricular Software Studio", an interesting project (started in part by Daniel Dennett) where professors with grant money could get software projects made... though some of the results of having an endless series of inexperienced undergrads work on your program were about what you would expect.
- coming out of college, I did a lot of interviews, and got 8 out of 9 places I applied for
How on earth does the word "plus" only have one s.
Sorry that Flash is going away. I never programmed much in it but there was a whole indie game making culture in it. Flash Game History is a bit of an homage.
The archivists are at work, though, with new options to run Flash stuff
No matter how far you push the earth away from you -- it will always return to its original position.